FA VASE winners Sholing drew a rare blank on their return to the Southern One South & West.

Adjusting to life without top gun Lee Wort was never going to be easy.

But new managers Dave Fear and Mick Marsh were well satisfied as the reigning Sydenhams Premier champions emerged from a season-long sojourn in the Sydenhams Wessex League to draw 0-0 at Shortwood. “We did very well considering we’ve had a year out, so to speak,” said Fear.

“A lot of the players haven’t played Southern League football before, so Marshy and I were very pleased.

“It was quite an even game with both sides dominating for five to ten-minute spells.

“Shortwood are a good side with good movement who will get more points than they lose.”

Nick Watts had the pick of Sholing’s first-half chances, blasting a left-foot shot just wide from 30 yards, and, but for the bounce of the pitch, skipper Byron Mason might have done better with a one-on-one.

Sholing started with just four members of their FA Vase final-winning team, leaving Wembley goalscoring hero Marvin McLean at home to get match fitness with the reserves.

But goalkeeper Matt Brown – voted man-of-the-match under The Arch – was again in sharp form and Sholing were grateful for the quick-thinking of Kev Brewster in clearing a goal-bound header off the line from a corner.

“It was a good team performance. Not everyone was at their 100 per cent best, but that happens,” said Fear.

“Everyone was looking for us to take a fall, but not today!” he smiled. “It was a solid start and it’s pleasing to get a point on the board with a decent performance. We couldn’t ask for more really.”

Sholing’s first home game is on Wednesday against North Leigh (7.45pm).